PHOENIX - It was just a few months ago when Lisa Fandrich first spotted him.
“I saw this man this elderly man crossing over the overpass on the 51 in the middle of summer at 8:30 at night pushing his wheelchair and a walker,” Fandrich told 12 News.
The man had lights on his walker and a sign that said “copper coins for sale.”
“I would burst out in tears because I felt, why would someone his age have to be out here in the Phoenix heat working? It's not fair,” she said.
The elderly man became a daily fixture on Fandrich’s north Phoenix commute.
“I just wondered what his story was,” said Fandrich.
The more she saw him, the more her curiosity grew -- until a hot day in June.
“I didn't see any water so I stopped and got a couple bottles of water and said it's time for me to hear his story because there's a reason why he's here,” Fandrich said.
Paul, the man with the copper coins was in his usual spot, under the lights of the Church’s Chicken sign at 32nd Street and Cactus Road.
“He told me that he moved here with his wife 36 years ago and they've been married for 54 years and he does this to make extra money,” Fandrich says Paul told her.
It turns out Paul is on a fixed income.
Fandrich asked Paul to take his picture and felt compelled to post Paul’s story online.
At first it didn’t get much attention.
Then a news anchor in San Francisco, Fandrich’s hometown, shared her post on social media.
Within a few hours it went viral.
As of Monday night, more than $10,000 had poured into a GoFundMe account for him.
Fandrich quickly learned she wasn’t the first person to drive by and want to get to know Paul.
“When I saw that it just pulled at my heart strings, like this is what I should have done a while ago,” said Tyler Karl.
Karl struck up a friendship with Paul a few years ago.
“He stays here until the Church's Chicken sign goes off most nights just about, rain or shine,” he said.
Karl says the workers at the fast food restaurant also keep an eye on Paul, making sure he’s safe out front.
“He is one of the nicest, most genuine people you'll ever meet, one of the most trusting people as well,” Karl said.
Karl went to Paul’s usual corner to let him know about the sudden windfall he’d received but the elderly man didn’t show.
So he still may not know about the outpouring of support he’s received.
“I’m finding out the more this story has blown up that so many people were like me, they've driven past him and never stopped and now they know his story,” Fandrich said.
Everyone we spoke to in the area only knew Paul by his first name and didn’t know where he lived.
Countless people have offered him rides home but say he always declines and preferred to ride the bus.
Fandrich and Karl plan to stop by Paul’s corner every night until they get a hold of him.